The Polar Puppet Project: Exploring the Relationship between Empathy and Ecology 

This project is based on my deep fascination with our Polar Regions, as well as my concern for their sustainability.  The project is designed to increase students empathy and understanding of Ecology in the Polar Regions, and in particular, three of today’s most critical environmental concerns: Global Warming, Overfishing and Pollution.

The Polar Regions

Life in the planet’s polar regions is extremely difficult. Cold winds whip across the landscape, winter temperatures reach deep into the negatives, and in winter, darkness can last for months. These regions however are home to a rich diversity of wildlife—both on land and under the sea.  These species are perfectly adapted to survive these harsh conditions. Millions of people live in The Arctic and rely on the health of their ecosystem to survive.  Some of the most important species to these people are: Polar Bears, Pacific Salmon, Narwhals, Walrus and Caribou. Antarctica has no permanent inhabitants, and is protected by a 1959 treaty that established the continent as a place to be used only for peace and science.  Because of this, thousands scientists inhabit the area every year in the pursuit of their research.  Some of the most important species to these researchers are Adelie and Emperor penguins, Leapord seals. Sei, Blue and Fin Whales, as well as several species of Albatross.  

The Crisis

The Arctic and Antarctic Regions are one of the fastest warming areas on Earth.  In some areas sea ice is decreasing and this has measurable impacts on wildlife and the humans that live and work in these habitats.  And in the Arctic, in addition to climate change, the habitat has suffered from pollution from the oil and gas industries as well as overfishing.

What can WE do?

In this project we explore meaningful change in four steps:

Step 1: Explore and understand the geography of these regions and the species that live there through play with sound and movement.

Step 2: Explore and understand the species and their relationship to their habitat in different seasons through drawing and collage.

Step 3: Explore and understand the ecological issues facing these habitats through mapping and graphing and games.

Step 4: Explore and understand ways that individuals can have a positive impact on the ecology of the Polar Regions by sharing their artwork and ideas.  

The Exhibition

After the final puppet show has been recorded and edited I will create a special website for participants to access with their friends and family.  There they can view the film, and find resources to carry the project further in their own life.


Workshops are available for children and/or adults, and will be tailored to fit your community.  The maximum group size per session is 20. I work with local organizations, and am equally comfortable in classroom, gallery, studio or community center locations.   If you are interested, contact me and I will provide a project proposal for your site including time, space and projected costs.